Retreating now to a dark, deluded inefficient corner of my bat cave ....
Nobody was trying to ridicule you. I just don't get why the people in favour of duolingo tend to take any criticism for an attack.
I definitely agree that the idea of making learning more economically reachable is great, nobody disputes that. The people with a choice between nothing and Duolingo profit a lot from its existence. What is being criticised is more the approach to how it teaches, and what kind of marketing it does. And the very sad fact that instead of improving the product, the company is doing a lot of steps in the opposite direction.
galaxyrocker wrote:I'll be the first to say I think this is an unfair analogy. I think Duolingo's main problem stems entirely from one aspect: it's a for-profit company. Most of the issues I have with Duolingo, at least on terms of the business side, would be much easier solved if they were a non-profit that could get government grants to improve/really work on their courses, as well as donations and such. As it stands, it's a for-profit company and needs to make money while offering free stuff. This means Duolingo basically has to cater to the lowest common denominator on things, which is why there's practices such as emphasizing starting a lesson and gamifying it/making the courses easier. They need those people to come back so they can turn profit (which, last I heard, they have yet to do). But, because of that goal, they do a lot of things I don't agree with, including leading learners down the wrong view of language learning and how long it takes. Not that it can't be useful in some regards - if you like the style it can be great for review and vocab learning - but they push it as the end-all-be-all...And, it's also made it harder for other, better, paid programs to get off the ground as everyone compares them to Duolingo and says "Why aren't they free like Duolingo?"
I don't think the problem is being for profit, but rather not being clear about it. A part of the marketing is built on the idea of bringing learning resources to the poor, the main product being free, and so on. As a result, a part of the fanatic userbase really believes Duo is a poor start up trying to save the humankind, that can't be criticised. They are mistaking this very rich company earning millions on ads for something like the Language Transfer.
It is for profit, but it doesn't offer any valuable bonus to the paying members, that is another weird fact. Yes, the content needs to be free, if we are to stick to the original idea of Duolingo. But it would be absolutely normal to give the paying users more settings that they've been calling for, instead of doing the A/B tests on them. I'd even pay for Duolingo as soon as I am starting a new language (with a volunteer tree, not the professional one), if I could choose to do just full writing translation exercises 100% of the time. But with the dumb exercises, there is no value in it even for free in my eyes. Or the paying users could at least get better communication from Duo, more designs (as some of the Duo updates were for example making it unsuable for people with several sight conditions), and other such things. But no, Duo wants to fit you into their mold at all costs.
You're right that a non profit might be nice in some ways, but I'd be sceptical. There are some good reasons, why state paid and organised language learning products don't get as successful as Duolingo, and don't surpass it even in quality. A country never hires somebody bold to try a new path, they go to least original usual creators instead. Duo was a revolutionary learning tool, at least until it started catering to the lazy and caring more about ads views than learning.
rdearman wrote:I don't understand. Some people have put forward the case against, but you're not really putting forward the case for?
A robust discussion of the merits and faults of any method, software, textbook, etc. are the reason for the forum. It allows readers who come after to use the discussion to make more informed decisions about the methods, software and things they will use to learn.
Slinking back into a cave and withholding your views and experience doesn't help anyone. So come out and tell us how you use it, what benefits you get from using it, what types of learners benefit from it, etc..
Deinonysus wrote:I guess I should throw in my 2¢ since this has turned into a Duolingo pro/con thread. I am a huge fan of Duolingo, and I think the reason is that I don't see it as a language course. I see it as a set of interactive writing drills where you can get instant feedback on full sentences. Unfortunately they took a lot of the typing functionality out of the app (which I haven't used in a while), but you can still type most answers if you use it in a browser instead of an app.
Exactly. That's what I used to like too. But Duo is no longer like that, there are fewer and fewer full sentence writing drills in the mix. That is one of the primary problems, in my opinion. You cannot type most answers even in the browser in some cases. It depends on your A/B version, the learnt language, etc. You don't get mostly full sentence writing even in the final review level.
When I use Duolingo for 30 minutes, I am typing in full sentences of the target language for at least half of the time. And I go through probably 5-10 times more sentences than Babbel, because Babbel is trying to throw all this other stuff at you and Duolingo doesn't care. And Duolingo has a TMTOWTDI ("there's more than one way to do it", pronouced like "Tim Toady") approach. If you type a valid translation for the text you're given, it will probably be accepted. If not, check the comments. Someone will probably have a good explanation of why it was accepted. And otherwise, you can report it. Not all courses are actively curated unfortunately, but many are.
That's a very good point. With only one catch: the new and professional courses often don't have the alternatives and are much slower at adding them than the old volunteer made versions.
Yes, that's what I used to love about it too. But then it started throwing tons of multiple choice, "listening practice", and other dumb worthless exercises on me. Right before I left, it was even testing a new waste of time exercise, I think it was about finding a mistake in a sentence. Everything in Duolingo that is not sentence typing is a waste of time, in my opinion.I just need it to let me type a buttload of sentences and tell me when I get things wrong, and by golly, it does that and does it well.
Now, to address the original post of the thread, I personally have a very difficult time progressing in a language if I can't commit to at least an hour a day using at least two different resources. If someone is putting in 15 minutes a day on Duolingo or any other single resource, I am very skeptical that they would be able to make any progress and make it stick. But if they find that they are able to dedicate an hour a day and use multiple resources, then I think they will do very well and make a lot of progress.
Personally I have made a lot of progress in Spanish and Hebrew over the past several months because I was able to dedicate a good amount of extra time every day to studying. For the past few days I've been distracted and I'm treading water a bit, but I'm still finding at least half an hour a day to study.
A very good point. A curious question: how do you put the Duo and other sources combination together? Do you try to learn the same things in a coursebook and Duo in some way? Or you just use them independently?
This is one of the catches of the new and slower trees, I'd say. It is hard to use them alongside a coursebook, because 1.you are more and more handheld with the order of too tiny the lessons (so much that the new Italki ads on youtube take a language learning app for the most rigid resource possible. ) 2.it progresses so slow that anything else is bound to be miles ahead of Duo very soon.
I do not doubt there are also some values to Duo. It was the first of many and opened a new area of language learning tools. But now it overshadows everything else and more inovative. It was supposed to fully use the advantages of the digital world, and be more flexible than the paper based stuff. Instead, it has become the symbol of rigidity so much that even Italki makes fun of it in the ads. It was a good way to practice typing full sentences, focus on translation. Instead, it is more and more focusing on trash kinds of exercise (which are more about pretending you learn than learning) and dumb leagues.
It has opened the idea "yes, I can learn a language" to many people, that is great. But it has also damaged the idea of what language learning is, and lead many people to disappointment and the rest of us to being taken even less seriously. If you say you're a self teaching learner, you're being taken for a naive lazy beginner just playing with Duolingo. So much potential, but Duo has instead decided to go for as many ads views as possible.